Friday, June 27, 2014

Moving Day!

The house is officially ours, and this is going to be my life for the next few days:

So obviously I'll be a little out of touch until we're settled and I have a moment to relax. Have a great weekend, everyone!

What's the best way to make a house feel like it's truly yours?
 What's the weirdest purchase you've ever been excited about? I'm freaking out about my new washer and dryer. I must be a grownup.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Courteney over at Runner Girl nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award! This is one I haven't seen before, and I feel honored to receive it because the purpose - like its name suggests - is to shed light on the blogs that inspire you. Thank you so much, Courteney!

The award calls for me to share seven things about myself, so I've decided to go random:

1. I love to bake. I find it extremely therapeutic, and it helps that I have a sweet tooth and enjoy eating what I bake when it's all done!
My first time baking a gluten free apple pie...We ate it all before I had a chance to take an after picture.
Flourless chocolate cake and vanilla whipped cream, both homemade.
2. I am terrified of sea creatures, but most specifically whales and manatees. I get teased for this all the time, but phobias don't answer to logic; I can't help it!
My brother-in-law sent this to me just to tease me...
...a colleague got this for me as a joke.
3. I'm extremely introverted and have been known to have panic attacks before going out to see friends and family...even when they're people I like and want to spend time with! It's nothing personal, I'm just neurotic.

4. Despite having run dozens of races of various distances, I still sometimes feel like an imposter.
I have this. I swear.
5. I love to write fiction. I've written over a dozen manuscripts since the time I was thirteen, but I'm too chicken to even think about publishing.

6. I don't want kids of my own. There's a possibility that years down the line Matt and I may look into adoption of an older child, but we're not interested in having kids ourselves. (This doesn't mean I don't like kids! You kind of have to in order to be a teacher!)

7. I am a voracious reader, but sometimes I have trouble finding new books that interest me, so I tend to reread my favorites. (Gone with the Wind: 14 times; Harry Potter series: 8 times; Outlander series: 3 times. The Dark Tower series: 3 times; my favorite Stephen King books: countless times.)
My bookshelves are exploding...the shelves are stacked 4-layers deep. How many SK novels can you spot?
The last step of accepting this award is passing it on to any number of bloggers that you find inspirational. I'm going to keep this list short today. The following blogs inspire me; I hope they inspire you!

Kristina @ Blog About Running and Life because she has come so far and continues to make huge progress on her quest to run an ultra.
Heather @ Girl Goes Running because she is a consistently strong runner, and reading about her training always gives me hope that I can someday be that kind of runner. (Plus she's an awesome teacher!)
Cori @ Olive to Run because she is honest and true to herself without worrying about what others think, which I completely admire.
Meg @ Meg Go Run because despite injury and anything else life throws at her, she is determined and hardworking and always overcomes.

Do you reread books multiple times?
What's a weird fear you have?
Share something random about yourself!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

A Better Run

Last weekend's "long run" (5.5 miles) was tough. Despite getting out the door before 6am and having a bit of cool weather (75 degrees), I was lethargic and tired during the entire run, and had to take a couple walk breaks to get my breathing right.

This weekend's run was worlds better.

I started before sunrise at 5:50am. It was so hot already (85 degrees!) that I decided to do something I never in just my sports bra. It was so dark out that I felt comfortable, and I only passed one other person the entire time I was out, so I never felt exposed or self-conscious. 
Nothing like starting a run by the light of the moon.
Despite the early hour, high humidity, and lack of breeze, I felt amazing the minute I started running. My quads were still a little sore from speed work on Friday, but moving was just what they needed. I easily picked up a pace over a minute per mile faster than last week's run, and stuck to it. Maybe I'm finally acclimating to summer.
The beginning of the run.
Matt uses Nuun when he races, and today was the first time I used his. I don't know why I waited so long; I think having it in my water bottle really helped. Also, my speedwork timer was still turned on, so every quarter-mile I was reminded of my pace. That helped the run fly by.
I saw this little guy around mile 2.
Today was a good day for wildlife, too. I saw a snake, deer, and a rabbit. My Sub30 group always counts rabbits on their runs but I rarely see them. I saw him right near the end, and he gave me that extra boost I needed.
Two deer across the lake.
My blurry rabbit friend.
I meant to stick my feet in my parents' pool after the run, but the water was so perfect I just slipped right in. I sat in the water on the shallow ledge to stretch, then held onto the edge and kicked a bit to work out my legs. It was seriously the best way to recover.
I finished just as the sun rose completely. Perfection.
Pool time!
My splashing woke their dog, which woke them. My dad came out to see what was going on and gave me the oddest look. I think he assumed I was just swimming at 7am, and didn't realize I had already been out running for an hour!
I felt such a great run deserved a treat for breakfast!
I seriously love a run that feels amazing the entire time, despite feeling challenging. It was the perfect marriage of difficulty and enjoyment! I'm so excited to get back out there and do it again!

As for Matt's SUP race...the conditions were really rough. 14 of the 43 racers doing the 6-miler took a DNF! (Between the two distances offered, over a quarter of the racers dropped.) Matt has never fallen off his board in a race before and fell off about half a dozen times. Despite that, he refused to quit, and earned 2nd in his division. I'm so beyond proud of him for sucking it up and getting it done.
Here's a peek at how the water looked pre-race, although the photo doesn't do it justice; Matt used my board because the conditions were too rough for his race board.
He also experienced chafing for the first time, so now he knows how we runners feel!

We were at the beach from 8:30am to nearly 4pm, and had a nice little setup going with our tent and chairs. I was smart about my sunscreen this time and got a nice little tan, but no burn. Overall, this was one of those weekends you wish could just keep going!

Did you run long or race this weekend?
What kinds of wildlife do you usually see on the run?


Friday, June 20, 2014

On the Horizon

I think it has finally sunk in for me that it's summertime! That means some big and exciting things are on the horizon. For one, marathon training for the Space Coast Marathon begins July 7. 

My plan calls for pretty specific speedwork, so I've been on the lookout for a used Garmin that will fit my meager "fun" budget (more on that in a moment). I was really lucky...when I reached out to my Sub-30 group, I was able to get my hands on a gently used Forerunner 410. (Thanks Shane!) It's a tad bulky, but I couldn't beat the price. I'm so excited to use it!
I already kind of love the touch bezel.
The watch needed to be charged, so I wasn't able to use it for my speedwork today. Elizabeth and I went out in the heat and knocked out some intervals. She had never done them before - she's an athlete, but not really a runner - and loved them!
75% humidity is downright refreshing these days.
I refueled with a Vega Sport protein bar. Pretty tasty, but a little heavy for my post-run preference.
Also coming up is my trip to Ohio for my family reunion! It's been years since I've seen my dad's side of the family, so it will be really nice to get up there and visit with everyone. Matt won't be joining me (again, "fun" funds...we're getting there), so he'll have the house to himself while I share a hotel room with my siblings...just like old times!
My cousin Lindsay is my only girl-cousin on that dad's siblings all had boys! Here we are sometime in the 90s, when I looked like a boy, too haha. 
Matt and I usually take a big vacation each summer for our wedding anniversary, but this year we didn't want to spend the money, and he won a weekend at a resort in Captiva Island, so we're using that instead! It's not a big trip, but it's just what we'll need.
I'm looking forward to getting away.
Okay, so why all this budgeting talk? Matt and I have finally decided to act like the adults people keep saying we are and buy a house! We close on June 26 (fingers crossed!), so we're really watching our funds. We purposely bought a fixer-upper, so once we're in, I'm sure the blog will be overwhelmed with photos. For now, here's one to keep your curiosity at bay:
Yes, it's pink. Yes, we're repainting. No, we're not sure what color yet.
The house is also why I may have to adjust my usual plan to run 12 races a year. I have two races on the horizon - an 80 mile relay and the aforementioned marathon - but I'm trying not to sign up for any others yet. There are a ton I ran last year that I'd love to reprise, but I just need to wait and see if they'll work out.
If all goes according to plan, in mid-July I'll get to meetup with some of my Sub-30 running friends, and I may even be at the MLB All Star Game...but that's entirely dependent on the contest and how voting goes.

This summer is certainly shaping up to be a full one...Can't say I'm complaining! The busier I am, the more fulfilled summer makes me feel!

Have you ever gone to a family reunion?
Do you like to travel in the summer?
Tell me about your first house-buying experience!


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

"I just need a cookie on a string in front of me and then I couldprobably run ultra-marathons."

That was the subject-line of an email I received from a close college friend, but we'll get to that in a moment.

I've been dutifully cranking up my miles; you'd think I'm running in the double-digits based on the amount I'm sweating these days, but it's just the humidity. 
Mm, sweat! The sure sign of a good run!
Am I the only one who thinks the more she sweats, the more accomplished/cleansed she feels?
This was what the sky looked like - without any editing or effects - before my run. I've never seen clouds like that!
After my run last night, I tried Vega Sport's recovery accelerator drink in Tropical. I really loved the flavor, and I'm definitely less sore this morning than I expected to be based on how I felt post-run. This is probably something I'll try again.
Alright, onto the real topic of today's post. My friend Caryn has just recently gotten into running. She has a certain way with words; after receiving this email from her, I just knew I had to share it with the blogging world. Her questions are in black, and my responses are in purple:

In response to [this blog post]: THINGS I WISH I KNEW NOW, BUT I AM SURE THEY WILL EVENTUALLY COME TO ME IF I JUST KEEP RUNNING Yep. Rule #1 - keep at it, don't give up; it'll all come to you in time.

1. When will I figure out the breathing rhythm? You could actually research HOW to breathe while you run, but counting breaths confuses me. I recommend that when you start to feel your shoulders getting stiff, or if you're hyperventilating and feel winded, take a DEEP, SLOW breath and let it out SLOWLY. Breathe like that until you feel better. Fast steps =/= fast breathing.

2. I am clearly not stretching enough beforehand, but when will everything stop hurting as soon as my running shoes touch the pavement? I am fully aware of the location of the following muscles/tendons: Achilles tendons, vastus medialis, and tibilais anterior. I know their names, because I made Alex teach them to me so that I may swear at them properly when they start to hurt. I am always polite to the body parts I insult. Don't stretch before. Stretching before is 90s gym coach theory and it's just plain wrong. Your muscles are getting accustomed to movement, so some pain is normal. Stretch AFTER a run, to keep yourself loose, and avoid sitting on your ass for hours after a run; move around a normal amount. Take rest days during which you stretch or do some yoga. Don't add too much distance too quickly. (Add about 5 minutes to your workout at a time, and don't add more than 10 minutes to your workout in less than a week's time. Go for time, not distance, when you're just starting out.)

3. Why are hills assholes? One cannot run down a hill comfortably in shoes or uphill without wheezing and straining. Assholes. They're assholes because they love you and want you to be strong. For now, walk hills. As your breathing gets easier, you'll be able to run them without a problem. Some tips: when you run UP, use your arms like you're pulling a rope. When running DOWN, lean forward into the angle of the hill, don't try to lean back.

4. Parking lots are flat, but also exceedingly boring. I must figure out a way to make them entertaining. Why the hell are you running in parking lots?! No wonder running is so painful. Talk about boring. Go park at a library or other public building that has some nice sidewalks and run there. Use google maps to figure out your route before you go.

5. Dogs under the age of five judge you on your pace. Dogs are assholes.

6. Running with your firefighter boyfriend is not a good way to determine a decent pace. Especially when he is 6'4" and you are 5'7". (ok, fine 5'6.5") An "easy" run should be at a pace that you can talk during. A "hard" run means you can only get a few words out and you're annoyed to be talking. Also, consider doing intervals. Run for a minute, walk for a minute, etc, for 30 minutes total. That way you're not expecting your body to just know how to run out of the blue. Intervals are freaking life savers.

7. Letting said boyfriend tell you that he will match your pace and believing him, because honestly, he is going to look like an injured gazelle, still graceful, yet obviously stinted by something, that something being you, and you will most likely end up feeling like a stubby-legged warthog, trying to escape a pride of lions; out of breath, sweaty, smelly, and suddenly aware that you could be dying at any second. (See above breathing rhythm issues, thus feeling of dying.) One day you'll be able to run with him. I like running with Matt because our paces are similar even if our strides aren't. I take two steps for his every one. Give it time; you'll get there. For now, maybe don't run with him because it's discouraging. Maybe he could bike or skateboard while you run, and he can go out ahead and come back a bit, etc.

8. Why can I walk correctly at a 20-inch step, and then when I start running,  cannot expand past what feels like a choppy jog, a fully reduced stride? Again, I shall refer to this as a warthog run. Proper form means you shouldn't be LEAPING. You want your steps to be small but quick. If you're listening to a metronome (go download an app pronto), a "normal" runner runs at 160 BPM. An efficient runner runs at 180. Small steps, fast cadence.

9. Dirty rap songs are motivating in a disturbing way. While I do not agree with how you treat your bitches and hoes (hos?), your deep bass and caustic rhyming keep me going, until my lungs refuse. DMX Party Up is like, my favorite running song. Other weird music habits: sad 90s ballads and musicals. If you know ALL the lyrics and can sing along and zone out, the run is a lot more fun.
10. Remember death metal is scary at night. DO NOT LISTEN TO IT ANYMORE FUTURE SELF. Only in car rides. While holding hands. During the day. Also no scary audiobooks.

11. When can I qualify myself as a runner? The minute you decided to try, put shoes on, and got out the door. Opinions differ on this, but I think I considered myself a runner when it became something I NEEDED in my life in order to feel fulfilled and complete.

12. Will you be my fairy"running"godmother? Is that too forward of an awkward question? I'm honored and humbled to accept this awkward and forward request. Do I get a wand?

What was your biggest obstacle when you first began running?
Why did you become a runner?
What words of wisdom would you offer Caryn, and other newbies?


Saturday, June 14, 2014

For Father's Day

My dad is not sentimental and mushy. I didn’t get my love of running from him, as cool as that would have been. He doesn’t have that “overprotective man gene” I find so awful and old-fashioned (thank goodness). In short, all the things young women usually post about their dads don’t really apply to mine. He’s not a sitcom, cookie-cutter dad.
Our first photo together.
And boy, am I glad he's not. 

My dad...

…is the one I call when I need advice I know I can trust, be it about my career, finances, or anything law-related.
Letting my sister walk all over him.
…is the epitome of self-made; yet he still has compassion for those who are struggling.

…is my favorite person to discuss politics with. Not just because we tend to agree on things, but because he always offers new insights and actually still reads the newspaper so he's not just spouting nonsense.
My 6th grade graduation.
…is the reason I cared about getting good grades in school, and why I'm determined to be successful in life.

…is hilarious and totally inappropriate. Even though my dad could be pretty gruff and strict when I was growing up, he's honestly one of the funniest people I know.
Everyday, I hope to make him proud. I respect and love him more than I can put into words; he has helped shape me into a strong woman, an independent thinker, and a compassionate human-being. It’s because of him that I sometimes let my anger get the best of me; because of him that I don’t shy from controversy and debates; because of him that I have confidence in myself and my abilities. I know I have worth, because he taught me that my voice matters.
I am so lucky to have a dad I respect, admire, and look up to.

As I said last year: "As I get older, I realize how like him I already am. I'm so lucky to have a dad who has been willing to support me - financially and otherwise - and teach me the importance of budgeting, planning, organizing, dedicating yourself to what matters, making wise choices, and having a realistic view of life.

His interest in politics fed my interest in politics. His dry, sarcastic humor shaped my humor. His honesty helped me get over the fear of being honest with others, even if it might mean that not everyone will like me. My dad doesn't sugarcoat anything, and in a way that makes his approval, support, and love even that much more special. I wouldn't trade him for anyone else in the world."

Happy Father's Day.


Friday, June 13, 2014

Pre-Training Preparation & a Recipe

Earlier this week, I broke out my colored Sharpies and my marathon training plan and went to work on my calendar.
Week 1 begins July 7!
The plan I'm using is Runner's World's Smart Coach. I really like the program because it allows you to choose your intensity and how many weeks of training you prefer. What I really like is that the plan is flexible.
Each run is hyper-linked to further detail about the workout.
I'm not a naturally organized person; I figured color-coding my planner would help. I'm still a little conflicted on how I want to go about cross-training because speedwork/tempo runs usually leave me feeling a little weak. But right now, my plan looks like this:

Red = speedwork; Fuschia = tempo; Light Blue = easy; Purple = race; Blue = long run; Teal = XT
So I'll definitely cross-train Tuesdays, and I'll leave Thursdays optional depending on how I feel and how long my long-run is that weekend. 

One thing I'm not really sure about is that the plan calls for four 20-milers! Most plans call for two at most. I already know I'll be missing one as I'll be doing an 80-mile relay that weekend, but I don't have any other races set up yet. Maybe all the 20-milers will have me feeling really confident by marathon-day!

So, part of pre-training is cleaning up my eating habits. It's no secret that I'm a fiend for all things sugary. I'm pretty notorious for having dessert with every meal. Over the past few weeks, I've given Matt permission to monitor my snacking. That pretty much boils down to me allowing myself one dessert a day; I make sure to eat it when I'm not alone so I have to be held accountable. It's amazing how quickly I've noticed a difference in my cravings for sugar, my energy level, and the fit of my pants!
Instead of sugary cereal, breakfast is now gluten free oatmeal with a tablespoon of peanut butter. Yum!
Now for a recipe! Elizabeth gave me this one and it was a hit! I changed some things up to have more control over the salt content. It's super easy; all you need is a crock-pot.

-Frozen chicken breast
-1 can of black beans
-1 can of corn
-1 can diced tomatoes
-1 can mild green chiles (or spicy...but Matt isn't a fan of heat so I kept it mild)
-Cilantro to taste
-Salt & pepper to taste
-1-2 cups cream cheese
-Avocado for garnish

Drain all the cans and dump them into your crock-pot.
I didn't drain the beans well enough. Oops
Place the chicken on top, season it with salt & pepper, cover, and cook on high for four hours.
Four hours later, add the cream cheese and cover and cook for another thirty minutes. While that cooks, whip up some brown rice.

Stir the crock pot so the cream cheese is all mixed in and serve it over rice. Top with your avocado. 

The chicken was fork-tender and so flavorful. I seriously can't stomach dry or bland chicken, so I was beyond happy that this turned out so well. Plus, there was plenty leftover for lunch the next day. We'll be having this again for sure.

Do you have a sweet tooth?
How do you prefer to keep track of your training plan? 
Do you ever use a crock-pot?


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Updates, Goodies, and Articles

Updates: It's been way too long since I've updated the basic layout and pages for HtGR, so I spent yesterday and today getting some of that done. Besides the new header and the new color (I'm still getting used to the purple - the blog has been pink since 2012!), I've updated my About Me and What I'm Reading pages. Definitely check them out...some of you may be featured on there!

Goodies: Last week I wrote a review for Vega Sport's sugar free pre-workout energizer. I had such a good experience with it, and the other Sweat Pink Ambassadors had such good things to say about their other products, that I've decided to try them out exclusively for marathon training.

Before I made that kind of commitment though, I wanted to try what else they had to offer. I reached out and requested some samples, and Vega did not disappoint! I returned from my weekend away to this lovely collection of goodies!
I can't wait to try these out!
Articles: As summer heats up, there's been a lot of talk in the running community about how we keep ourselves motivated to run despite the humidity and soaring temperatures. Most people jump to recommend signing up for a race...but what about runners who don't really like racing?
This article from Runner's World addresses just that. Even though I love racing, I don't like to race in summer, so I found the recommendations insightful. Also, it's a good reminder that there's an entire population of runners who just love to run and don't really like the race experience or covet bling, and that's totally fine! It's too bad you don't see more writing out there geared toward those runners.
Also on my reading list this week was this article from the Women's Running Community on Facebook. Now that training is looming (more on that later this week), I'm scheduling in all my runs for the twenty weeks or so, and of course that leaves me wondering when is the best time for cross/strength/core-training. I love these four exercises because they're simple enough to do at home, but very effective.

Share a helpful or interesting running article in the comments!
Share a new blog you've been loving that I should check out!
Are you particularly loyal to a specific brand for training/fueling?


Sunday, June 8, 2014

This Weekend in Pictures

I think I'm going to consider this my first official weekend of summer. It included everything a typical summer weekend should...the beach, a nice run, and baseball. And it's not over yet! Fair warning: this post is image-heavy!

Thursday & Friday
We went to stay the last couple days at my father-in-law's timeshare. Yes, even Floridians need a beach vacation once in awhile! I wanted to just enjoy myself and let the relaxation soak in, so I didn't break out my phone for pictures until Friday night's sunset.

A perfect view.
Matt looks like he's on fire!
Moments like this remind me of how lucky I am.
We started the day with a nice run. Friday night we stayed up with the in-laws and I was lucky to even roll out of bed even though I planned 5 miles and only did 4, I still gave myself a pat on the back. This was my first morning run of summer, but it won't be my last. Marathon training means morning runs.

Matt longboarded beside me and we ran through St. Armand's Circle and took in the views of the bay.

Totally worth getting up after six fitful hours "sleeping" on a pullout couch.
I was obviously, and happily, distracted by the view.
I love how quiet it is! Usually this area is not fit for those with claustrophobia!
Even the neighborhood is pretty and runner-friendly!
That evening, we met some old college friends for a Rays game. It was Matt's and my first game of the official season - we saw them in spring training. It was a Summer Concert Series game, and Weezer was the band for the night. They played all the old 90s stuff I just love, and it was a great time!
The game started with a tribute to Don Zimmer, who passed away this week. It was really moving.
We hung out on the new boardwalk and had a great view right under the scoreboard.
This may just be our next holiday card.
The BEST part of the night was running into a sorority sister who I haven't seen in years! Stereotypical shrieking and hugs may have happened.
Weezer out on the field.

Matt had a SUP race Sunday morning. Last time he raced at this venue, I nearly died of heatstroke. So we made sure to come prepared this year. The six-mile race was pretty brutal in that heat, but Matt kept a 12:xx pace, which is crazy fast for paddling; he was very pleased with that. He placed third in the 200-meter sprint after the six-miler.
Pre-race setup. Not too shabby!
Getting to the starting line.
And they're off!
A nice action shot toward the end of the race.
Of course, after all this, we were super exhausted. We came back after lunch and napped. We'll be back at the Rays game Monday with a special twist...

I've been selected as one of three finalists for the Rays for MLB's All-Star Teachers competition. Just making it this far is seriously amazing, and I'm totally humbled; the two other Rays teachers are so deserving. Monday, we go out on the field pre-game for a recognition ceremony. I'm pretty terrified, but it should be really fun and special too!
If you want to check out the nominees, click here. Each team has three finalists, so if you're not a Rays fan, there are still plenty of teachers to vote for!

How was your weekend?
Do you feel like summer has started yet?
Who's your favorite baseball team?